PH seeks $700M in loans from ADB, AIIB for COVID-19 vaccine purchase

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — The Philippines is seeking $700 million (nearly ₱34 billion) in loans from two multilateral lenders to help speed up its procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

The proposed Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 under Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility Project (HEAL 2) would require $764.17 million (around ₱37 billion), as listed in a project document published by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

“This project is proposed to be supported under AIIB’s COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility and co-financed with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the procurement of vaccines eligible under ADB’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) program,” the document read.

Of this amount, lead co-financier ADB shall provide $400 million ( ₱19.41 billion) while AIIB is expected to supply $300 million ( ₱14.56 billion). The Philippine government shall be shouldering the remaining $64.17 million ( ₱3.11 billion).

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The project’s financing is eyed for approval next month, while the estimated date of loan closing is on September 2024.

Foreign lenders are among the entities the government has turned to for additional financing for the country’s pandemic response measures.

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The project intends vaccination efforts to address the pandemic’s harmful effects on both the Philippine economy and populace, read the document.

The ADB, under its Safeguard Policy Statement, classified HEAL 2 as Category C for Environment, Involuntary Resettlement, and Indigenous Peoples. This is of the basis that no adverse environmental and social impacts are expected.

“The project has a draft confirmation that it will be categorized as ‘effective gender mainstreaming,’ as it will expand social assistance for the poor and vulnerable with clear linkages to women’s welfare,” the document stated.

Delays have hounded the delivery of vaccine doses from Western drugmakers Pfizer and AstraZeneca along with China’s Sinovac, which were initially slated to arrive this month.

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Authorities hope to vaccinate 50 to 70 million Filipinos by the end of 2021, with a full, public vaccine rollout eyed to start in the third quarter.